Beeman R10: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Beeman R10
Beeman R10.

Part 1

History of airguns

This report covers:

  • Start
  • Scope base off
  • Tip 1
  • Mainspring
  • Remove piston
  • Sleeved piston
  • Threaded spring tube
  • Breech seal
  • Cleaning
  • Piston seal
  • Tuning strategy
  • Trigger
  • Insert the piston with the new Vortek seal — tip 2
  • Last thing — the trigger box!
  • Final assembly
  • Summary

Today I disassemble the Beeman R10 and install the Vortek PG3 tuning kit. I installed one of these in the Air Arms PG3 SHO tuning kit in an Air Arms ProSport last year and the results were very positive. But this R10 is a different rifle in many ways, and I will cover that today as we go.

I am going to show you all the differences and nuances of the R10, but I can’t show everything about disassembly. If you want to see that read the 13-part series titled Spring gun tune. That was about a Beeman R1, but most of the steps are the same for the R10. I will address the ones that aren’t. read more

Things you can do to make your new airgun better: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

• Shoot it!
• Test it!
• Clean it — maybe
• Oil it — maybe
• Keep your hands off!

Today, I’m going to look at precharged pneumatics (PCP). Maybe you thought these came ready to go right from the factory, and in many ways they do; but even with this powerplant, there are always things you can do to make the guns shoot better.

Shoot it!
The first thing is something most people are going to do anyway — I just want to make you aware of how it affects your gun. Shoot it! Don’t take it apart to see how it works and if you can “correct” all the flaws the “stupid” factory left in the gun when they made it. Don’t send it off to be tuned. Just shoot the thing, and it will get better.

Back when Falcon airguns were being made in the UK, they used to come from the box at one velocity — let’s say it was 890 f.p.s. with a .177-caliber H&N Baracuda Match. A thousand pellets later, the same rifle might be getting 960 f.p.s. from the same pellet. Falcons always increased in velocity as they broke in. That’s something my friend Mac taught me. He owned 6 Falcon air rifles, and each one of them got faster the more it was shot.

I started watching, and lo and behold my brand new Daystate Huntsman did the same thing. It started out at 875 f.p.s. with the same pellet and was up to 930 when I started competing in field target with the rifle, about 500 pellets later. Of course, to notice such things, you have to have a chronograph and use it.

Test it!
The second thing you can do for your PCP follows from the first. Test your PCP to establish the optimum fill pressure. Don’t read the manual and then slavishly fill to exactly 3,000 psi on the dial of your fill gauge just because that’s what it says in the book. It’s a good bet that your gauge is off by some amount, anyway, so use that chronograph to find out what works best with your particular airgun and your particular gauge. Use the owner’s manual as your starting point.

My Daystate came with instructions to fill to 2,600 psi. But that didn’t agree with the fill gauge on my scuba tank — and THAT did not agree with the gauge on my hand pump that I ultimately used exclusively in competition. I discovered that if I filled my rifle to 2450 psi, as indicated by the gauge on my hand pump, the rifle gave me 24 shots that didn’t vary by more than 10 f.p.s. That information didn’t come from any manual — it came from testing the rifle over a chronograph with the pellet I intended using. Once I discovered that, I made an indelible mark on the cover of the gauge of my hand pump — a mark that is still there today, even though the rifle’s long gone.

Clean it — maybe
This trick I learned from the late Rodney Boyce, who sold me both my Daystates. He told me that PCPs shoot with dry bores, and they sometimes get lead in the rifling that affects accuracy. He said that, whenever accuracy falls off, you need to clean the bore. Then Ben Taylor — the Ben of Theoben — told me exactly how to clean an airgun barrel. Use a brass bore brush (steel barrels only) that’s loaded with JB Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound and run it through the bore both ways 20 times. Clean out the residue, and the bore will be clean. I’ve been cleaning airgun barrels that way ever since, and it works.

And while I’m on the subject — don’t get hung up on the fact that Brownells calls their brush a bronze brush and I said to use brass. Brass or bronze — they all work the same. When the exact material really matters, such as when I say to use Silicone Chamber Oil, I’ll tell you that I don’t want you to use the silicone oil that comes in spray cans for oiling door hinges. And, I’ll tell you why.

Before I leave this subject, I have to say one more thing. LEARN ABOUT LEAD AND LEAD ALLOYS!!!! For over 50 years, I’ve had to know about the subtle differences between pure lead and certain lead alloys because I cast my own bullets. It really matters. If you use lead that’s been hardened with antimony, I guarantee that your bullets will leave lead deposits in the bore of your gun! I first discovered this in about 1968 while shooting a .45 Colt Single Action. But over the years, I have seen only a few gun writers who know that this happens or why.

Antimony is used to harden the lead alloy when you want to shoot a bullet very fast. Soft lead alloys will not withstand the rotational torque of the bullet when shot fast. In short, they’ll strip the rifling (they will not allow the rifling to grab and guide them) and will be inaccurate.

This leading happens more as the velocity increases, so until you top about 750 f.p.s. with pellets you won’t notice it. But when you shoot Crosman Premier pellets in an airgun at 900 f.p.s., they’ll lead the bore! It’s gradual at first, but it does accelerate as the lead builds up. Those using Premiers should clean their barrels when the accuracy drops off. But don’t be a slave to cleaning!

I know an airgunner who claims he cleans his barrel with JB Paste every 200 shots! Folks, that’s not cleanliness — that’s insanity! He’s being anal. This fellow will clean his barrel so often that a time will come when it will have to be cleaned all the time, because of the mechanical damage he has done from the rod impacting the rifling. Only clean your barrel when the accuracy falls off. And, if Premier pellets are the most accurate pellets in your airgun, by all means use them. I do!

Oil it — maybe
I do oil my PCP airguns. I use silicone chamber oil and put it in through the air intake port — the same way we put Crosman Pellgunoil into a CO2 gun. I know what this oil does for a PCP powerplant, and I do this as a matter of course. You don’t have to do it, and I am not advising you to. But if your PCP has a slow leak (loses pressure after a week), then some silicone chamber oil might fix it.

And, no — I didn’t say to use automatic transmission fluid or whale snot or Jake’s Sure-Fire Fix-it Oil. I said silicone chamber oil — period!

Keep your hands off!
The best advice I can give is going to roll right off the backs of those who need it the most. Leave your airgun alone! Just shoot it, and then shoot it some more. If there are adjustments (trigger, power, etc) avoid making them until you’ve shot your gun enough to know when an adjustment makes a real difference. I read about guys getting brand-new PCPs and tearing into them like they’ve been working at the factory for the past 10 years. They get knee-deep in the innards, and only then does it occur to them that they don’t know what they’re doing.

There’s a delicate balance between the striker weight, the power of the striker spring, the length of the striker travel, the diameter of the valve port, the shape of the valve head and seat, and the strength of the valve return spring. Is that complex enough for you? Your airgun has been designed to work best with the combination of these variables that’s in the gun when it leaves the factory. Changing any variable affects the others and may take the performance of your airgun outside the envelope in which it was designed to work.

When I worked at AirForce Airguns (2003-2005), I got to see the damage people will do to airguns. One case was particularly interesting, because the man who had brought us his nearly new and hopelessly broken Condor was posting on forums how to soup-up Condors at the same time he was asking us to fix the rifle he had destroyed. His “heavy” striker weight hammered apart the valve in his gun. It also ruined the screw hole in the frame that holds the threaded boss that the tank screws into. We fixed that as best we could, but he really ruined the rifle’s frame, which is the heart of the whole gun. Be wary of people who are self-proclaimed experts.

Things you can do to make your new airgun better: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

This report covers:

• CO2 facts
• CO2 is a self-regulating gas
• The temperature thing
• Piercing pin problems
• Chilling bulk-fill guns to fill better
• Crosman Pellgunoil
• Automatic transmission stop leak
• Getting more power from a vintage CO2 gun

It took me long enough to get back to this report! I guess the SHOT Show and some other things just busied-up my schedule. But, this afternoon, I was installing a CO2 cartridge in a gun and had a little difficulty…when it hit me — I need to tell the readers about that! So, today I’ll talk about CO2 guns just a little.

When airgunner Jennifer Cooper Wylie asked for this report on my facebook page, I think she was looking for tuneup tips. I’ll give them, but mixed in will be some common maintenance tips, as well. We’re looking at CO2 guns today, and it’ll be helpful to remember what we know about CO2.

CO2 facts
CO2 is a refrigerant gas that expands as the temperature increases. When it expands, it increases in pressure when it’s in a confined space.

It’s also a gas that sublimates (changes from a solid to a gas without first becoming a liquid). It can be a source of thick, heavy fog used for theatrical effect without any special equipment being needed. Solid CO2 is simply placed in an open container like a bucket or tray and allowed to outgas. The dense fog flows out and hugs the floor because CO2 is heavier than air. If there’s water in the container, the outgassing speeds up, because water transfers its heat much faster than thin air.

CO2 is extremely cold in its solid and liquid forms. When it changes to gas, it does so by absorbing heat from its surroundings. Hence, as a CO2 gun fires, it gets colder. This chilling effect lowers the pressure of the resulting gas, so a gas gun fired rapidly also rapidly loses velocity. Since CO2 is used to power repeating airguns, this chilling effect needs to be taken into account. That’s why I allow a minimum of 10 seconds between shots when I test the velocity of a CO2 gun.

CO2 is a self-regulating gas
As a CO2 gun is fired, the liquid inside the cartridge (or the gun, itself, if it’s a bulk-fill gun) evaporates to replace the gas pressure that was used by the shot. At 70˚F, CO2 evaporates to a pressure of 853 psi. Just imagine that CO2 liquid expands 900 times when it changes to a gas. That’s why just 12 grams of CO2 liquid provides enough gas to power a gun for many shots.

In the old days, shooters thought their CO2 guns were leaking down fast. Many actually were because of the bottlecap CO2 cartridges then in use. But they were also experiencing a loss of velocity because they were shooting their guns rapidly and experiencing the chilling effect. Nobody talked about the chilling effect of CO2 in 1960 — people just chalked it up to gas leakage.

bottlecap CO2 cartridge
Crosman used this bottlecap method of sealing their cartridges for some time in the 1950s and ’60s to avoid patent infringement.

The temperature thing
Okay, let’s get on to today’s report. First, let’s talk about this temperature thing. It works both ways. On a cold day, when the ambient temperature is less than about 60˚F, a CO2 gun will chill with each shot and will not recover as fast. The colder it is, the slower the gun shoots. That’s why CO2 guns are not recommended for hunting in colder climates.

But it also works the other way. As the temperature rises, the gas pressure increases until you get what we call valve lock — too much pressure inside the valve for the striker to open it. I remember back in 2009 when we were filming a segment on action pistols for American Airgunner, and all our guns stopped working. We were filming in the Catskill mountains on a summer day where the temperature was just 85˚F. Normally, that’s an ideal temperature for a CO2 gun, but the guns that weren’t being used had been left on a table in bright sunshine — where they heated up to well over 100˚F. That’s when they all quit. When the second gun stopped working, I recognized what had happened and put the table in the shade for 30 minutes. After that, they all became operational, again.

Piercing pin problems
While filming this same segment, I found a couple guns that would fire one powerful shot and the next one was very weak. If we waited for a full minute, the next shot was powerful again. This wasn’t due to the gun chilling with the shot. This was something else.

When I removed the CO2 cartridge from the problem gun, I saw that the piercing pin had barely pierced the surface of the CO2 cartridge. It should have made a pronounced hole. The face seal in this particular gun was so thick that it prevented the piercing pin from piercing the cartridge as deeply as it was supposed to. Piercing pins are all the same at the factory, but there can be some variation in the thickness of synthetics used to make seals. Seals can also be made from different hardnesses (durometers) and that can cause the seal to not compress as it’s supposed to.

The solution was twofold. First, when we pierced the next cartridge, we put extra torque on the piercing screw to push the cartridge harder against the face seal. That squashed the seal down a little more. Then, we backed off on the piercing screw a small amount (1/4 turn) after the cartridge was pierced. That gave the gas more room to exit the cartridge.

This two-part approach worked in a limited way. That particular gun still took longer to recover from each shot than other guns, but the recovery time was now down to a few extra seconds instead of a whole minute. By repeatedly doing this procedure, you can eventually squash the thick face seal enough that the problem goes away entirely. This was the problem I had yesterday with the CZ P-09 pistol, and I fixed it exactly as I just described. If you shoot a lot of CO2 guns, you’ll eventually encounter one with this problem. Now you know how to deal with it.

Chilling bulk-fill guns to fill better
Bulk-fill CO2 guns are guns that are filled from an external tank instead of a throwaway cartridge. More equipment is involved, and it takes a few seconds longer to fill the gun, but the result is a gun that shoots 50 shots for 5 cents instead of 50 cents. That’s an almost 10-times reduction in the cost to shoot! Once I found that out, I became a lifelong advocate of bulk-fill CO2 guns.

But there are some things you have to know. When cold CO2 liquid enters a warm airgun reservoir, it immediately flashes to gas and increases the pressure inside the reservoir. Before long, the pressure in the reservoir is equal to the pressure inside the bulk tank that’s filling the gun. When that happens, the liquid stops flowing.

Chilling the gun before a fill lowers the temperature of the reservoir. Even when the liquid flashes to gas during filling, the temperature inside the reservoir is still lower than the temperature inside the CO2 filling tank, so the liquid continues to flow much longer. As a result, you get a higher percentage of liquid to gas inside the reservoir. This increases the number of shots you get per fill from about 30 for a room-temperature fill to 50 for a chilled fill.

But there’s some danger with this procedure. If the airgun is too cold, the percentage of liquid to gas in the gun’s reservoir can rise above 80 percent. When that happens, the space inside the gun for the CO2 to expand to gas is reduced, and that can have only one result — gas pressure rises. If the gun’s temperature rises like those action pistols we put in the sun, the pressure can exceed the strength of the materials used to build the gun. Then, the gun explodes!

So, chill your airgun or reservoir with this in mind. Either shoot the gun immediately or don’t fill it this way. A gun filled too full and left to sit is a time bomb whose clock can run out at any time.

Crosman Pellgunoil
I learned about Crosman Pellgunoil from Crosman repairman Rick Willnecker. He told me that he used Pellgunoil on every gun he resealed and that it’s impossible to use too much. When put on the tip of a CO2 cartridge or in the fill connection of a bulk-fill gun, the oil is blown into the gun’s valve where it gets on all the seals and o-rings, sealing them tight against gas loss.

Rick told me that many times when a customer sent him a gun for repairs, he first put some Pellgunoil into it and it sealed immediately. He still replaced all the seals because that was what the customer wanted, but he told me to give it a try. The opportunity came very quickly.

Edith and I used to attend a local flea market that was held in the parking lot of the local mall every Sunday. Once each month, they had Super Sunday and the number of stalls increased dramatically. A couple weeks after talking to Rick, I went to a Super Sunday and found 2 Crosman CO2 single-shot guns. One was a model 187 (.177) and the other was a model 180 (.22). They’re the same except for caliber. The seller told me they both leaked, but I knew Rick could reseal them so I bought both for $40, as I recall. When I got home I decided to try Rick’s suggestion, and he had given me some Pellgunoil sample packs to test.

I put Pellgunoil on the tips of 2 cartridges (each gun uses 1) and installed them. Both guns started leaking, then stopped suddenly. The 187 is scarce, and this one happened to be in excellent condition. I sold it for $100 but kept the 180. I still have it today, and it still holds gas indefinitely! I haven’t shot it in several years, so the cartridge that’s in it has been there for at least that long. I just pulled it out of the closet and fired a very powerful shot! Folks, that’s a testimonial to the benefits of Crosman Pellgunoil!

Automatic Transmission Stop Leak read more

Things you can do to make your new airgun better: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

• The trigger
• Be careful!
• Adjustment is fine
• Lubrication
• The best thing you can do with a new airgun
• Final recommendation
• Summary

This report is written at the request of Jennifer Cooper Wylie, a follower on my Facebook page. A few days ago, she asked me to address this subject, and I thought it would make a wonderful report for all the people who are new to airguns.

This subject is large, so I’ve broken it into powerplants. Today, I’ll address spring-piston guns, only. So, when I say airgun today, I’m talking only about springers.

You have a new airgun. What can you do to make it better? Even if it isn’t brand new, you may be able to find a manual for your gun, and that’s where you should begin.

The trigger
You hear some people talk about polishing or stoning the sear in their airgun — is that something you should do? Definitely not!

I used to work on airguns at AirForce, and some of the trigger parts we made were case-hardened for long wear. Then, I sprayed them with a dry moly powder that was baked-on in an autoclave. If left alone, this coating will last the rest of your life. If you stone your sear, you risk removing all the moly particles, plus the thin shell of case-hardened material that will then expose the softer metal underneath. Then, your trigger will start to rapidly wear out!

Stoning refers to using an abrasive stone to smooth metal. It’s similar to sharpening a knife, only you aren’t putting an edge on the parts. If done correctly, it can turn a mediocre trigger-pull into one that’s fabulous. Unfortunately, about one person in a hundred knows how to do it right. The other 99 will do a botch job that runs the gamut from no change to a downright dangerous trigger that can slip off the sear by itself.

To correctly stone a sear or trigger requires precision jigs to hold the parts being stoned and sometimes even to limit what the stone can touch. Anyone who says they can stone a part by hand and eyeball it is in the 99 percent group that isn’t doing it right.

Ed Brown sear jig
This is one-half of the tooling needed to stone the sear on a 1911 firearm. You don’t have to spend the $50 to buy this Ed Brown jig and feeler gauge, plus the several hundred more to get the hammer fixture with microscope to stone a 1911 sear and hammer; but you do have to be able to machine jigs like it that are just as accurate!

So, stoning is out, but there are things you can do. Lubrication comes to mind. I generally lube the engagement surfaces of the sear and trigger with moly-impregnated grease like Air Venturi Moly Metal-To-Metal Paste. This plates the surfaces with moly particles that don’t wear off — just like what AirForce does for their trigger parts.

Be careful!
Some spring guns, such as the Octane, have trigger pins that readily fall out. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve helped put their triggers back together when this happened. So, if you don’t know what you’re doing and cannot find instructions you can follow, leave the trigger lubrication alone.

Octane combo trigger pins
Reader DTMoney wrote a guest blog that told readers how to properly assemble the Octane trigger. A lot of owners were losing the pins from the mechanism and not knowing where they went. read more

Feinwerkbau Sport air rifle: Part 8

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

Feinwerkbau Sport air rifle
FWB Sport air rifle.

This report covers:

• Assembly
• Lubrication
• Testing the rifle
• Crosman Premier lite pellets
• Air Arms Falcon pellets
• Evaluation to this point

Today, I’ll finish the tune of the Feinwerkbau Sport air rifle, and then we’ll test it. When we ended the last report, we had looked at all the parts and cleaned off the excess gear oil.

Now it’s time to assemble the rifle. I looked at the trigger assembly that receives and holds the piston rod when the rifle is cocked. It’s very similar to the 124 trigger, but I can see refinement in fit and finish. This won’t be an easy trigger to modify, but it’s so nice as it comes from the factory that this isn’t an issue. I did not lubricate the trigger before assembly, but I did dry off the gear oil.

Feinwerkbau Sport air rifle trigger assy
A lot of similarity with the FWB 124 trigger, but these parts are finished better.

Feinwerkbau Sport air rifle trigger assy2
Underneath, you can see the trigger parts more clearly. Very similar to a 124 trigger except for a much better finish.

Feinwerkbau Sport air rifle trigger assy3
The piston rod enters the trigger assembly here to catch the sear and set the safety. The flat bar on top is the safety.

The barrel was placed back into the action’s forks. Other breakbarrels fight this assembly because the pivot bearings slip out of place as the baseblock is slid into the action fork, but the Sport’s bearings fit so well into recesses that there’s no movement. Once the pivot bolt is in the hole, it’s tightened. Then, the locking screw is tightened in the end of the bolt. With the Torx fasteners, it’s so easy to do!

All metal parts that slide against each other got a coat of Air Venturi Moly grease. That would be the tail of the piston, the beveled edges of the cocking shoe and the piston slot they ride in. I used to pre-coat the compression chamber with a film of moly paste, but I’ve found that the moly that transfers from the piston seal is sufficient to do the job if the chamber walls are finely finished.

The piston seal was coated, as well. And the piston rod also got a coat of moly. The piston was slid back into the spring tube, and this was where I noticed that the piston seal is possibly on the small side. You usually have to fight to get the piston seal into the tube, but this one went in easily. An aftermarket seal might tighten the piston just a bit.

I’m not going to make parts for the gun, and I wanted to stay on the light side with the lube, so I buttered the mainspring with Beeman Spring Gel, which is no longer sold, but which is a red synthetic grease of medium viscosity and tack. Since the spring guide is so loose on the mainspring, I probably should have used black tar on that part, because it’s very viscous and tacky. Instead, I used a coat of Beeman Mainspring Dampening Compound — another obsolete white synthetic grease of higher viscosity than Spring Gel, but lower than black tar.

Both these greases are no longer made, but you can find acceptable substitutes in the synthetic greases at any good auto parts store. Look at wheel bearing greases, especially. If you’re going to tune airguns, finding the right lubricants is very important, and automotive stores plus the farm supply stores are great places to look.

Feinwerkbau Sport air rifle mainspring lubed
I butter the front half of the spring with Spring Gel, then insert it into the rifle and butter the back half. That way, I don’t have to hold it. read more

Feinwerkbau Sport air rifle: Part 7

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

Feinwerkbau Sport air rifle
FWB Sport air rifle.

This report covers:

• Disassembling the Sport
• Spring guide was loose
• Remove the piston
• Piston comes out
• Mainspring tube/compression chamber finish

Okay, today the Feinwerkbau Sport air rifle comes apart, and we’ll start looking inside. This report is huge, so it will take today and tomorrow to complete.

Some of you might like to compare what you see in the Sport to the FWB 124. That can be seen in the 15-part report I did on the FWB 124.

Okay, enough explanation. This is what you’ve been waiting for, so let’s get to it!

Disassembling the Sport
First, the barreled action came out of the stock. FWB now uses Torx fasteners all around; and although I’m one of those dinosaurs who doesn’t like when technology advances and forces me to buy new tools, in this case it was the right move. I’ve stripped both Allen screw heads and Allen wrenches in the past when working on airguns, and the Torx seems to put an end to that. Three screws out, and the stock came off.

Now, I could see the gear oil that was still oozing from the action. If nothing else, today was going to get rid of all of that so I didn’t have to put a pan under the rifle like it was a 1949 Harley panhead (an old American motorcycle that leaked oil all the time)!

Feinwerkbau Sport air rifle oil
Gear oil was still oozing from the action!

Fortunately, Feinwerkbau finished the inside of the stock wood as well as the outside, so no oil got into the wood. That’s something you never see on a breakbarrel!

Next, I placed the action into my mainspring compressor and put some tension on the trigger block. The rear of the trigger assembly block has a flat that is perfect for pressing against with a compressor, so I used a wood block to press on it. That relaxed the tension on the crosspin that anchors the trigger unit (keeping it from rotating in the spring tube) and also the bolt that holds the trigger unit in the spring tube.

Feinwerkbau Sport air rifle compressor
With tension on the trigger assembly block, you can remove the crosspin that prevents the trigger from turning and the main action bolt that holds the trigger assembly inside the spring tube.

Feinwerkbau Sport air rifle bolt loosened
After drifting out the trigger crosspin, remove the bolt and the trigger block is free to come out of the spring tube.

With the bolt out, you can relax tension on the trigger assembly block. The mainspring will push it back out of the spring tube. The FWB 124 has a huge amount of spring tension on the trigger block and comes out several inches, but the Sport only comes out about 1.50 inches.

Feinwerkbau Sport air rifle mainspring relaxed
The compressor is backed out, and the mainspring relaxes. As you can see, this spring was under some preload. read more

Benjamin Marauder .177 caliber 50-yard test: Special part

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Benjamin Marauder .177-caliber air rifle: Part 1 read more